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Policy innovation crucial for promoting renewables in India: V Subramanian

Jun 26, 2014

V Subramanian, Former Secretary, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and currently CEO and Chairman of Indian Wind Energy Association, in an interview to OneWorld South Asia said that Indian government should formulate a total renewable energy mission to promote non-conventional sources of energy.

V Subramanian

OWSA: How do you think mainstreaming renewable energy in government schemes would help promote renewable energy?

Subramanian: Government schemes will work better if they are integrated with other services. At present, we seem to be working within watertight compartments.

For example, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), a rural road scheme which aims to connect roads with interior villages, can be integrated with many other things like providing solar lamps and street lights to ensure safety of villagers once it gets dark, providing free bicycles to girls to go to school, etc. An overall vision is required for such integration.

OneWorld South Asia: Tell us about the Indian Wind Energy Association.

V Subramanian: Indian Wind Energy Association is one of three organizations operating in the wind energy space, the other two being Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association and Wind Independent Power Producers Associations. This association takes up the cause of the wind industry in the gamut of various regulatory commissions.

OWSA: The Climate Parliament has been asking the government to establish a National Clean Energy Access Mission. How do you think that will help further the cause of renewable energy?

Subramanian: I think it is high time that the government introduces a total renewable energy mission. We already have a Ministry of Renewable Energy and in fact, India is the only country to have such a ministry.

So, I do not know whether the mission would be more effective than the Ministry and whether it’ll be a mission with increased performance or same as before.

OWSA: With countries like Germany providing support to India in big scale solar energy projects, do you think international collaboration is the need of the hour in the field of renewable energy?

Subramanian: What we have to draw upon is the experience that other countries have developed. For example, Germany was the first country to introduce feed-in tariffs in solar power.

We can learn from such efforts by other countries in taking wind and solar energy forward. What we need, therefore, is not aid but experience-sharing at the international level.

OWSA: What is the significance of innovation for promoting the prospects of renewable energy?

Subramanian: There are three types of innovations that can benefit the renewable energy sector as a whole: policy innovation, commercial innovation and technology innovation. Today what we require at the earliest is policy innovation. The right policies will enable people to take renewable energy forward.

OWSA: How do you look at the grid connectivity issues?
Subramanian: Renewable energy is connected to the grid but the connectivity is very weak. There are many places where the grid is not strong enough to evacuate the wind power that is being generated.

This happens particularly in Tamil Nadu which has a very strong wind capacity. The issue is being addressed but it’s a slow process.

For the first time, some months back, the southern grid was connected to the national grid consisting of the northern, eastern and western grid. So wind power being generated in the southern region will now reach other regions as well.

OWSA: How will mobilisation of low-cost funds for MNRE sector help?

Subramanian: More than 95% of the investments in the renewable energy sector have come from the private sector and their business so far has been carried out at the existing rate of funds. Low-cost funds shouldn’t appear as subsidies but as incentives.

OWSA: Demands have also been made for a Renewable Energy Act. How do you think it will make a difference?

Subramanian: Renewable Energy Act will go beyond electricity. The power generated from renewable energy is being governed under the Indian Electricity Act which is heavily loaded in favor of coal, thermal, large hydro and nuclear power. A separate renewable energy Act will give powers to the same regulatory commission to absorb renewable energy into this framework.

OWSA: What kind of role do you think Indian Renewable Energy Foundation (IREF) will play in the renewable energy sector?

Subramanian: We want to be policy advocates of all sectors and explore all forms of energy. If we have to reach 15% power in the grid by 2020, we have to look at all options, including bio mass, bio gas, solar thermal energy, wave energy and tidal energy.

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